posted 4 years ago

Kia Soul EV Review

First Drive of Kia’s All-electric Model

The Kia Soul has been around since 2009 with the second generation launched early this year.  The compact SUV crossover now takes the next step to become an all-electric version and Kia had an ideal location to test it out on, the capital city of the UK, London.

What is the spec like on the Soul EV?

With EV sales increasing, the Soul seems the perfect model to make an all-electric car as it looks modern, quirky and stands out amongst its competitors.  There are just two metallic paint colours available, Titanium Silver and the two tone Caribbean Blue with Clear White roof.

Just to make it easy there is also just one trim level with plenty of equipment.  The interior is a mixture of Grey Eco cloth with blue stitching, trim inserts finished in high-gloss white while the steering wheel and gearshift are in leather.

The Kia Soul EV is very spacious and even as an all-electric car, the 27kWh lithium ion polymer battery is integrated into the floor so easier to get access to while there is only an 80mm reduction for rear-seat legroom.  Boot space is 281-litres, slightly smaller than other Soul versions as the undertray houses the charging adapter cable.  With the 60:40 split rear seats lowered, boot space can be increased to 891-litres.

The centre console dominates the interior with an eight-inch touchscreen showing the reversing camera, 3D navigation and the all-important charging point locations.  A 3.5-inch OLED instrument cluster displays information for the driver including EV information and  additional equipment includes Bluetooth with voice recognition, heated front seats and steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass on the rear windows, front speaker mood lights, front and rear parking sensors and automatic air-conditioning with a driver-only function.  With anxiety on electric cars to not have the heating on so you don’t run the battery down, the Kia Soul EV has an efficient heat pump system to eliminate those worries.  Clever stuff.

There are two charge points, both cleverly hidden behind what is usually the radiator grille on the Soul model, but as an electric motor requires less cooling, it’s been blanked off. 

What’s it like to drive?

It makes a lot of sense to have an electric car in a city, not only can you save on fuel bills, they are also emission free so no Vehicle Excise Duty to be paid or Congestion Zone fee.

The Kia Soul EV comes with a wallbox charger so it can be ready to go in less than 5 hours, a household socket will take between 10-14 hours and at public rapid charging stations around the UK, it will take around 25 minutes for an 80% charge.

A bonus of the Soul EV is the class-leading 132 mile range on a single charge, which is great if you suffer from the dreaded range anxiety.

With it developing the equivalent of 109bhp with 285 Nm of torque it isn’t sluggish when moving away, the seamless acceleration getting it to a  top speed of 90mph, so it’s more than capable of motorway driving.

There are two drive modes, Drive and Brake which help the performance of the car and the recharging effect of the regenerative braking system.  Regenerative braking helps to top up the batteries, which aided by the continual stop starts in traffic in London meant we didn’t reduce the range by too much. Super-low-rolling-resistance tyres also reduce energy consumption.

It is so quiet that the Virtual Engine Sound System has been added to make sure cyclists and pedestrians are aware of the car.  With a lower centre of gravity and adjustable steering assistance, when you get through traffic the Kia Soul is a fun car to drive, although the ride could do with some improvement. 

Safety systems include Hill-start Assist, six airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Anti-lock brakes with Emergency Brake Assist and Emergency Stop Signalling.

Kia Soul price and verdict

The Kia Soul EV is priced at £24,995 after the £5,000 government grant, rivals such as the Nissan Leaf costs from £16,490 and the BMW i3 is £30,680.

The Soul EV does come with the seven-year Kia warranty and they expect to sell around 100 per year across just 13 EV specialist network dealers based around areas of expected sales.

With 78,000 sales of new cars so far in 2014, Kia will have a record year and with new powertrains and technologies being introduced over the coming years, they are a manufacturer on the rise.

Motoring.co.uk likes on the Kia Soul:

Range

Standard equipment

Space

Acceleration

Motoring.co.uk dislikes on the Kia Soul:

Hard ride

Priced a bit too high